This week Planetary wraps up, Haunt kicks off and Criminal returns

It's another "big" comics week, and by that I mean we see a lot of big releases pretty much across the board. Image brings us the first issue of Haunt, the new series by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo and some guy named Todd McFarlane who I think makes action figures or something. Oh, and he also created Spawn and Venom.

This week also sees a lot of other returns: Doug Moench and Kelley Jones return to Batman, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips return to their Criminal series, Bloom County returns to print, the Star Comics characters return with the X-Babies, and last but certainly not least, Planetary finally returns to comic shops for its long-awaited final issue.

To see what Kevin, Chris and I have to say about this week's releases, read on ... and don't forget to tell us what you're getting in the comments field.

Kevin Melrose's pick of the week: Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 1 hardcover

As a kid I dutifully, and perhaps obsessively, clipped Bloom County from the local newspaper each morning before school, carefully placing each strip in a red photo album whose cover was decorated with a full-color Sunday installment (covered in Scotch tape, naturally, so as to protect it from tearing). I was an odd child, one for whom the collected editions would be a revelation still another two or three years away. Yes, I was a devoted fan of Berkeley Breathed's slice of eclectic Americana ... and Antarcticana, I suppose. Opus, Milo Bloom, Steve Dallas, Bill the Cat and the rest. Even when I didn't quite grasp some of the political or social commentary, I was totally enthralled with fictional Bloom County (to the point that I shamelessly ripped it off in a strip that I wrote and drew, quite poorly, for a couple of months). Ah, memories.

I suppose I, or the slightly less-obsessed fan, am the audience for whom IDW Publishing is releasing the hardcover Bloom County: The Complete Library. Considering that I have no idea where my red photo album is, and can locate just one of my collections (Toons For Our Times), I thank them. This first of five volumes collects every Bloom County from Dec. 8, 1980, to Sept. 26, 1982. (IDW)

JK Parkin's pick of the week: Planetary #27

What a long, strange trip it's been. The eagerly and long-awaited finale to Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's trek through the secret history of the Wildstorm universe -- or, more accurately, the history of the superhero genre and maybe even stories in general -- finally hits stores this Wednesday. I'd say I was gonna miss it, but we've been missing it for a few years now ... so this is like finding that one last bottle of wine, or beer, or Dr Pepper made with pure sugar cane, in the back of the pantry when you thought they were all gone some time before.

In any event, this is one of those books I feel I can't not make my pick of the week. Ellis shares his thoughts on the end of the series here. (Wildstorm)

Chris Mautner's pick of the week: The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 2: From the Bastille to Baghdad

For nearly 20 years now, Larry Gonick has chronicled the entirety of human history, from the caveman days onward in his "cartoon guide" series of books. Now he finally completes his saga with this latest and final volume which runs the slave trade and imperialism to modern times, including the 9-11 attacks. In between we learn about colonialism, Napoleon, the westernization of Japan, the birth of the modern era and so much more. Gonick is a natural and lively storyteller. I hate to use the hackneyed phrase "makes history come alive," but in his case it's entirely true. His perspective and sense of humor are always worth investigating. (HarperCollins)


Chris: Hey, new Bryan Talbot comics! That's always good news. This one's a funny animal-styled spy/detective story, so I wouldn't go in expecting any of the high-level pontificating that graced his previous book, Alice in Sunderland. Still, this should be a lot of fun, and will almost certainly be beautiful to look at. (Dark Horse)

Batman and Robin #5

Chris: Man, Philip Tan didn't make any friends with that last issue, did he? Of course, he was following Frank Quitely, which is a bit of a hard act to follow. Let's hope he manages to create at least a little bit of goodwill with this latest issue. (DC Comics)

Batman Annual #27

JK: This kicks off a two-part story that ends in this year's Detective annual that sets the stage for the new Azrael series by Fabian Nicieza. (DC Comics)

Batman: The Unseen #1

Kevin: It's a dicey proposition for creators to return to a character or title to which they were once closely associated. There's always the risk that new work isn't as good as the old -- or isn't as good as we remember -- or that it feels incredibly dated, as if we've been hurled kicking and screaming back in time a decade or two. With this five-issue miniseries, DC Comics reunites Doug Moench and Kelley Jones, whose names are virtually synonymous with 1990s Batman, from the "vampire trilogy" of Elseworlds books to the monthly series. The Unseen finds Gotham City plagued by a series unexplained murders whose witnesses describe seeing a skinless "meat-man." I have no idea what that means -- I don't want to think too long about it -- but it sounds like prime Moench-Jones territory. Expect more weirdness along those lines, plus ever-growing Bat-ears and Bat-cape. (DC Comics)

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel

JK: Vertigo's first prose novel features a brand-new Fables story by Bill Wilingham with spot illustrations by Steve Leialoha. I thought this was an excellent outing for Willingham and the Fables characters into the world of prose, and I recommend it for anyone who is a fan of the comic or just likes new twists on old fairy tales.(Vertigo)

Haunt #1

JK: A challenge from Robert Kirkman to Todd McFarlane in, I believe, 2006 leads to new comic work by McFarlane ... he helped create the book and inks Ryan Ottley's pencils. I have to agree with Chad Nevett that this is one of those books where fans probably already know if they're going to get it or not based on the creators involved, reviewers and bloggers be damned! (Image)

I Sell the Dead (one-shot)

Kevin: I really want to see this movie -- I have an unhealthy fascination with 19th-century grave-robbing -- but I'm not big on comic-book adaptations. On the plus side, though, the art is by Brahm Revel of Guerillas fame.

King City #2

JK: The second issue of Image's reprinting of the popular and well done Tokyopop book created by Brandon Graham. Even though I already own the Tokyopop version, I'm buying these anyway just to see them in the bigger format. And yes, typically I'd feel stupid for buying something twice, but in this case, I feel no remorse at all. (Image)

Astonishing X-Men #31

Kevin: Artist Phil Jimenez joins writer Warren Ellis for this second arc, which kicks off with S.W.O.R.D. Director Abigail Brand hurtling toward Earth in a damaged spaceship -- and in desperate need of the X-Men. (Marvel)

Criminal Sinners #1

Chris: Having wrapped up Incognito, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips return to their flagship title, and to one of their more endearing (and I use that term somewhat ironically) characters, Tracy Lawless. As happy as I was to see the two stretch themselves on Incog, I'm really, really happy to see this back on the rack again. (Marvel/Icon)

Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #1

JK: If you told me 20 years ago that one day the hero formerly known as Brother Voodoo would star in his own comic, I would have said, "Oh, does that mean El Aguila and Captain Ultra will have their own series, too?" One can only hope both are in Marvel's unannounced plans. (Marvel)

Daredevil #501

Kevin: Andy Diggle and Roberto De La Torre kick off their run on the title. I typically enjoy Diggle's writing, so it'll be interesting to see where he takes Daredevil, post-Brubaker. (Marvel)

Spider-Man: 1602 #1

Kevin: As I've noted before, I gave up on Marvel 1602 about halfway through the 2003-2004 miniseries, and I didn't bother to pick up the sequels 1602: New World and Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four. That said, I'm looking forward to this miniseries which, as the title suggests, focuses on young Peter Parquagh, who's forced by the machinations of Norman Osbourne to return to Europe. I have a lot of faith in the writing of Jeff Parker, and I've been impressed by the art of Ramon Rosanas. So who knows? This may be the title that hooks me on the alternate-history concept and pushes me to buy the previous collections. (Marvel)

X-Babies #1

JK: Marvel's cuttest lil' mutie gang returns in a four-issue mini-series that finds them going head-to-head with characters from Marvel's Star line. No doubt we'll finally find out who would win, a miniature version of Wolverine or Top Dog. (Marvel)

The Boys #35

Chris: The other pamphlet must-buy of the week for me. Having wrapped up the last storyline, we now delve into some of the characters' secret histories, starting with Mother's Milk. Judging by the cover, it's not too hard to figure out how he got that nickname. (Dynamite)

A Distant Neighborhood Vol. 1Summit of Gods Vol. 1

Chris: It's Jiro Taniguchi week, apparently, as Fanfare/Ponent Mon drops two books by the prolific manga-ka. Neighborhood is the story of a middle class guy who gets to live his childhood all over again. Think "18 again," but more wistful and contemplative. Summit, meanwhile, is another mountain climbing book, in this spirit of Ice Wanderer and The Quest for the Missing Girl. This one's about Everest though.

Don't let my drab description of these titles keep you away from them though. Taniguchi's a fantastic draftsman, and his art is always worth a flip-through, if not an actual purchase. (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

EC Archives Frontline Combat Vol. 1

Chris: I had thought that economic troubles had forced Gemstone to stop putting these pricy EC collections out. I'm glad to see they're still keeping on, even though it may be a while before I'll be able to set aside $50 this book. (Gemstone)

Masterpiece Comics

Chris: R. Sikoryak mashes up classic comics with classic prose and makes you wonder why, for instance, Charles Schulz never thought of adapting Kalfka in his lifetime. It's a really fun collection, one I heartily recommend, and was one of the more popular books at SPX this year. (Drawn and Quarterly)

30 Days of Night Collectors Set

Kevin: It's called a "Collectors Set," but I imagine most devotees of the vampire-world that Niles and Templesmith built already have copies of the first three volumes in the series: 30 Days of Night, Dark Days and Return to Barrow. Still, the slipcase looks nice. (IDW)

The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks

Kevin: This graphic novel by bestselling author Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z) and artist Ibraim Roberson apparently chronicles major zombie attacks throughout history, detailing how previous eras have grappled with, and survived, encounters with the walking dead. You can see a preview here. (Random House)

Check out the full list of this week's releases at the Diamond site.

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